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blocked drain who's responsible

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I've just spoken to my tenant and she informs me that there appears to be a problem with the drain being blocked, the manhole is on the shared drive? The property I own is a maisonette in a block of 4 which I think are all connected to the same drain, am i responsible in part for dealing with the blockage or is it down to the freeholder?

How is this sort of matter best resolved?

Thanks for any help.

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this question can be notoriously difficult to answer - or at least to get agreement on.

I think there are three key pieces of information you need:

a) what kind of drain is it? For example, does it just serve your block, or is it a main drain serving a larger area? If the latter, others may share some of the responsibility for its repair.

b ) whose land is the drain on? In other words, is the shared drive part of the same freehold that includes your maisonette? If not, again, others may carry the responsibility.

c) most importantly of all, what does you lease say? Although this isnt always the case, the lease should make responsibilities for this sort of thing clear. Usually, the freeholder will be responsible for fixing drains which serve the block, but it is also likely that they will be able to pass the cost on to you and the other leaseholders through the service charge. Again, the lease should make it clear what types of cost can be passed on.

Good luck


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Thought I would give an update.

Went round first thing Monday morning and lifted manhole covers and indeed the drains were blocked (very blocked).

Got onto the freeholder's agent, who it turned out rented two of the other properties in the block, they wanted to check the freeholders lease.

In the meantime I rang our local water company who came out within an hour and gave a quote of £65 if they unblocked it there and then or £135 if they came back. Not knowing who or if anyone except me was willing to pay towards the cost I sent them away until I got a reply from the freeholders agent. Callous I know but I had my reasons, if it was down to me and me alone the problem would have been resolved immediately.

I then managed to make contact with the landlord who owned the flat below mine and it turned out that he had known for over a month there was a problem with the drains and had done nothing.

I then had to email a copy of my lease to the freeholders agent as they wanted to check its terms and they didn't have a copy.

Tuesday came and went and I heard nothing.

On Wednesday morning my tenant contacted me saying the problem was getting worse, I got onto the freeholders agent and after a bit of two and frowing they agreed that they would deal with the drains and then split the bill between all properties. By Wednesday afternoon the drain had been cleared, it turned out someone had put baby wipes down the toilet and it was this that caused the drains to block.

In hindsight it may have just been easier to get the drain unblocked then fight for costs thus saving me the hours spent sending emails and making loads of phone calls but then again it may have taken just as much time to chase everyone for their contributions towards the cost.

Its just another experience of being a landlord and another to add to the list (the list is getting quite long now, I might write a book?).

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For what its worth, I think you did the right thing. The principle is now clearly established with the freeholder's agent which will be very useful if the problem recurrs - and in my experience this sort of problem often does. The last thing you want is other parties thinking that they can leave it to you to sort out.

Worse still, you wouldnt want your actions taken as some kind of "evidence" that you or your tenant have accepted responsibility for the blockage in the first place. Again, I've known this happen in the past.

So, you now have to pay a quarter of £135, instead of, maybe, a quarter of £65 - but who knows whether anyone else would have agreed to pay their share if you had just gone ahead?

The only way I would have done anything differently is if the blockage had become an emergency; in that case, you would have little choice but to act, gather whatever evidence you could and then argue the case afterwards.


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